About the Public Distribution License

The Public Distribution License, henceforth referred to as the PDL, was developed to fill the need for an alternative Free/Libre/Open Works license that does not contain the explicit strong heritability of the CCD CopyWrite License. Like the CCD CopyWrite License, it is written with the intent of being understandable to the layman while still providing adequate legal protection and clarity for the terms of the license.

Versions of the PDL below 1.0 are considered "development" versions, and may not be entirely suitable for all purposes. In particular, version 0.2 is not recommended for use with compiled software or otherwise automatically or mechanically transformed content. It may also not be perfectly suited to cases where patents may come into play. These are matters that are intended to be addressed in coming versions.

In Brief:

This license is intended to mimic the "Public Domain", a legal concept particular to certain jurisdictions, which ensures that no copyright claims are enforced. Two points separate this license from the Public Domain:

  1. Unlike the Public Domain, anything licensed under the terms of the PDL should continue to be subject to the terms of the PDL for the length of your jurisdiction's copyright term, regardless of modification or manner of distribution.
  2. Also unlike the Public Domain, anything licensed under the terms of the PDL should be subject to its terms even in jurisdictions that do not recognize the legal concept of the Public Domain, as long as it recognizes common concepts of copyright itself.

In general, you may redistribute, modify, copy, use, fold, spindle, and mutilate any work covered by the PDL as desired, provided you include the text of the PDL with it, granting any recipients of the work or a derivative work the same rights.


As with any copyfree license, the PDL is designed such that it should be effectively self-enforcing. This is the case because it serves more properly as a defense of the recipient against copyright enforcement than an assertion of legal rights of the distributor.


Whereas the CCD CopyWrite License is designed to create a "safe harbor" for its terms, the PDL is designed to serve more as a means of encouraging its distribution and use, even within larger projects that are distributed under the terms of other licenses. Weak heritability Copyfree licenses such as the PDL are suitable for works whose widespread adoption and use are desirable, such as in cases where the concept or work is more important to be shared widely than the license terms themselves, or when it is believed that strong license terms heritability may hinder adoption or distribution of the work significantly (and thus limit how widely the license terms may be shared). Its use is also encouraged for those who do not much care what happens to their works once released, but who wish such to be made clear for any form of copyrightable content in any jurisdiction.